By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2023-01-08
Not everyone who claims to be on your side is actually on your side. Although it may seem obvious, as we have pointed out before in our article titled “Was the Freedom Convoy Compromised,” there were many in Ottawa that seemed to have their own agenda.
In the case of Tom Marazzo, he wasn’t an original organizer but he became a prominent part of the negotiations that went on with Doug Ford’s good friend and former Chief of Staff Dean French. These negotiations took place with JCCF contracted lawyer Keith Wilson, Eva Chipiuk and Tom Marazzo himself; and all of this happened behind the truckers backs and without their knowledge. That is to say, the truckers found out Dean French was involved after the discussion had already begun.
Apparently, Dean French thought that it was best that communications between himself and lawyer Keith Wilson were kept secret and Wilson agreed. In text communications released to the Public Order Emergency Commission, Mr. French told Mr. Wilson that he wished to remain a “private citizen mediator.”
Text Communications released to POEC between Dean French and Keith Wilson (French in black Wilson green)
Mr. French told Wilson that “For media, let’s keep me as the private citizen mediator 🙂 that’s what I’ve asked the Mayor to do.” Wilson responded to French by indicating that he was on board with this strategy. “Agreed re-you being private citizen mediator.”
In email communications with Diverge Media, Mr. Wilson told us that he had informed the truckers that he was in communications with Doug Ford’s former Chief of Staff Dean French after he had already begun speaking with him.
“Once I started talking to French, I briefed the Board that I was in discussions” – Keith Wilson, lawyer contracted by the JCCF
Mr. Wilson referred to these communications with Dean French as “backchannel” negotiations in email communications with Diverge Media. When we asked why Mr. Wilson agreed to keep Mr. French’s involvement secret in text communications, Mr. Wilson responded that he “might have not mentioned Dean’s name in the first couple of days” as he was “dancing with him” to see if he “could build trust.”
The question that needs to be asked is who gave him permission as a lawyer to go and speak on the truckers behalf? Especially with Doug Ford’s good friend and former Chief of staff – I mean that should be a non-starter no? After all, Doug Ford was the guy who issued 200 orders in council (orders without a vote from the legislature) in 2020 alone. He was arguably one of the worst lockdown enforcers that Canada had to offer during Covid; but hey, let’s open up “backchannel” negotiations with his friend without the truckers knowledge?
What’s ironic about the whole story is that Wilson and Marazzo pushed for the exact same thing that Deputy Chief Bell wanted – a smaller and more enforceable area. In testimony at POEC, the city manager of Ottawa, Steve Kanellakos, said that the idea to consolidate trucks onto Wellington came from the Ottawa Police Service. According to Steve K, the Ottawa city manager, Deputy Chief Bell was on board with the move to consolidate trucks onto Wellington street because “it would reduce the footprint and make it more manageable for their resources because they were spread too thin covering that large a geography.”
The question that needs to be answered is who gave Wilson, Marazzo and Chipiuk the authority to speak on behalf of the truckers without their knowledge or consent? It lends itself to the question we asked in our first article on the topic – what do you do with a decentralized movement that’s fed up with all levels of government from all political stripes? As we posited in that article, perhaps you join their ranks and steer the ship in your preferred direction. In this case the preferred direction appears to be focusing all the heat from lockdowns on the federal government and off of Conservative Premiers; but that’s an article for a different day.
If something doesn’t seem right to you than you’re in good company – it doesn’t seem right to us either. I think it’s safe to say we shouldn’t trust everyone who drapes themselves in a “freedom fighter” label.
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